27 August 2015

The Transformative Power of Generosity

Earlier this month I was a guest at a conference of Christian Associates, who we served with for many years. During the conference the leadership of CA gave the first annual Generosity Award to a couple who has been wildly generous to the organization. I won't mention the people by name because they do not like the spotlight.
        When the award was given, 4 or 5 people stood up and gave brief testimonies about how this couple and their generous hearts had transformed people's lives. At the end of the testimonies all 150 people gave the couple a long, standing ovation. I had chills then and I have them now as I write this.
          As I have been processing about this Generosity Award, I have been challenged in new ways around this transformative power of giving. Here are four take aways for me.
          More than anything else, this is always a matter of the heart first with outward manifestations (resources given). Most of us gawk at the dollar amounts given by someone, but watching this couple's lives and knowing a bit of their story I am convinced that their hearts are in the right place to be able to give freely.
          Second, I hope that Susy and I continue to cultivate giving attitudes and disciplines that far exceed our expectations. I have found generosity to be one of the keys to relating to God and dealing with my own tendency to covet, hoard, and acquire things.
          Third, I want to be a promoter and to highlight great causes for people to give to, whether to something I am personally involved in or not. Many of the people I know are doing great work and people's lives are being transformed! I want to be part of that transformation and I also want to help others be part of it. Here are just a handful of great work that people I know personally are doing:
     * Tom started Motorcycle Relief Project recently to come alongside military veterans who are dealing with PTSD;
     * Suzann runs a group called Beirut and Beyond to provide relief to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East;
     * Brandon started My Quiet Cave to help fill the gap between the Church and mental illness;
     * My friend Lizzy and I are working with a group called Dorcas Aid International and their Adopt a Granny sponsorship program in the United States;
     * Jamie and Steve race Formula 1 cars and their club sponsors a race each year that raises money for the Morgan Adams Foundation, in order to fight childhood cancer.
          I could go on and go and talk about Christian Associates, Crescent Project, Peace Catalyst, Leadership Connextions, and others. I love the work that all of these groups are doing and I want to promote their efforts every way I can.
          Fourth, and last, I am reminded of Rick Warren's statement, "You can't out-give God." Rick is a master of pithy statements that stick with you. This is one of them. And it gets at the heart of the matter - many of us (myself included) have a scarcity mentality rather than an abundance mentality. We think there is a "generosity pie" that gets sliced up and it is limited in nature. So we only talk about our non-profits, our efforts so that people give to us.
          This mentality comes from a place of fear rather than of faith. I am susceptible to it as much as anyone else who raises funds for causes. For me, trusting God and Jesus comes down to these very moments when I fear that we will not have enough.
          I am writing this as the summer is drawing to a close and organizations gear up for their Fall fundraising campaigns. Almost 40% of all charitable giving in the United States takes place in December each year! I'm not sure that is a great stat, but it is a reality.
          The challenge for all of us is for our hearts to be transformed a bit more this year so that we become more generous people - with time, talents, and treasure. What is the next step for you in generous giving?

PS - A great organization to check out is Generous Giving.  

26 August 2015

24 August 2015

Boom! Coming tomorrow!

Tomorrow I will publish one of the most personal close-to-my-heart articles I have ever written. It also crystalizes my thinking around three audience I speak to regularly - the Jewish community, Christians who are pro-Israel, and others who oppose Israel.
      This is likely to be controversial and I hope it will challenge many people's thinking about the Middle East, about Jewish people, and about other religious folks.